Monday, 29 August 2011

Making friends

As it looks very much like I might be trapped living in my parent's house for another few years (boo), I'm trying to downsize some of my junk. So I've been selling yarn and fabric and clothes on Ebay, and trying to sort through my mountains of craft stuff. Apart from the masses of shop bought fabric, I've also got a fair amount of old clothes that are ugly or too big or have a stain on them or a hole in them that I can't throw away for whatever reason.

One such item of clothing was this tunic I bought in the Uniqlo flapship store in Tokyo. It does nothing for me, makes my hips look massive and is just generally not great- but it's SO COMFORTABLE. I only have one photo of my ass in it, and you're not seeing it. Sorry. But here's the tunic monstrosity.

I had the day off work because I'd eaten some dodgy rice, so I decided it was time to say goodbye to this tatty thing and turn it into some kind of monster. I made a pattern out of copies of the compact Independent, "I"...

...pinned them to the fabric and cut round them....

...did some mumbjo jumbo magic seams, character formation and stuffing and came out with this:

Isn't he awesome? I'm very happy, although he needs some shorts to hide a scruffy bum seam. He's called Puffy, after the Japanese band, because the tunic I made him from was designed by them, apparently inspired by this song.

I made another friend called Cubunny, but he was hacked together while watching the pretty awful film "27 Dresses" so he's a bit shoddy. Stretch jersey is surprisingly hard to sew with.

New friends! Yaaaaay!

I miss university.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Triple Decker Sponge with Coffee Meringue

Got bored this weekend. Made a standard vanilla sponge (well... 3. I had enough for 3 7inch tins). Found a recipe on the internet for an intriguing looking topping and so: 



Oh my.

Okay, okay, here's the recipe for the topping. The base was just a boring sponge cake.

Coffee meringue cake topping

  • 1 egg white
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 2.5 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of water 
  • 1 teaspoon of freeze dried/instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Add the coffee to the water and stir until completely dissolved.
  2. Put a pan half full of water on to boil.
  3. In a bowl that fits over the pan (bain Marie style) combine all of the ingredients bar the vanilla.
  4. Place the bowl over the water and beat the mixture thoroughly with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks.
  5. Remove from the heat and beat in the vanilla extract.
  6. Spread over your cake and leave to set. For a cappuccino effect, sprinkle over cocoa powder.

Gorgeous! x

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Baby Steps

I've been back at work for a week and a half now (hooray!), and I've only just got over the "waaah, tiredness" hump. When you're at home all day, even if you're working out or gardening or keeping yourself busy, you forget how tiring going into a stressful office can be. Anyway, after a little adjustment period, I got back my "omg I have to make something I can't just sit here" itch. There were a couple of films I wanted to see on telly (Big- good, Harry Potter 4 A Goblet of New Hope- bad) and I had most of a ball of yarn left from my Granddad's socks, so I knocked out these.

They're not supposed to have standard 2x2 rib at the top, they're supposed to launch straight into cable rib, but for some reason I found Tom Hanks incredibly distracting on the first sock (seriously, it took me about 4 attempts to cast on with a tail at an acceptable length). I messed up so many times on these socks and had to rewind! My brain obviously has forgotten how to multi-task.

The detail on them is a little twist/cable rib, made by just knitting a second stitch before the first one and then knitting the first stitch.

They are so so small though! UNNATURALLY SMALL YOU WEIRD BABIES YOU.

I haven't decided whether I'll try and sell these or give them to my pregnant cousin. My cousin is probably the kind of person who'd refuse to put purple socks on a little boy and who maybe doesn't really like/appreciate handmade, soooo, you know, if I sold them, at least they'd go to someone who really wanted them...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Retro Craft- Sirdar Gemini

Craft, as we know it, hasn't actually been around that long. Before craft was something housewives picked up to amuse themselves, it was the preserve of wealthy girls showing off (embroidery), a make do and mend necessity (traditional American patchwork) or a way of making a living for skilled craftsmen with years of experience and a squadron of apprentices. When mass production and new industrial techniques eliminated the need for so many craftsmen, craft fell by the wayside and became a hobby marketed to women (and to a lesser extent, men) with time to fill. And that's how we ended up with a plethora of horrible horrible craft publications.

Retro craft is going to be a series of blog posts in which I look at some of the craft blasts from the craft past hiding around my parent's house.  

Starting with this gem, which I think I picked up at the Reading branch of Oxfam.

Knitting publications from the past boggle the mind. Did people really dedicate hours and hours to their lives knitting some of these things? You have to wonder what they were smoking back then. This book starts out promising.

Not too bad, but I can't imagine anyone over the age of about 13 wearing that. If you knitted the jumper in a solid colour it could work. Equally, the next few patterns were unremarkable- a short sleeved mint green thing, a horrible shapeless (but warm looking!) jumper, and a plain cardigan. The cardigan is probably the most useful pattern in the book, even if the girl does look rather violated in her posing.

We're still in the salvageable part of Knitsville here. I think if you replaced the baby blue and pink with charcoal and grey, this would actually make a pretty nice guy's jumper.

Then we cross the tracks into the bad part of knitting town. 

What is this?

Tennis wear for snow days? A bust minimiser cleverly designed to blend in on a fishing boat?

The least feminine cardigan award goes to...
Can you imagine spending hours and hours knitting that only to try it on and look rectangular? I think my dad has this in grey somewhere.

My only explanation for this next piece is that it was some sort of deleted scene from the film Grease and the spurned costume designer tried to market the pattern to make up lost cash.
It's just... horrible. And pointless. This thing just should not exist.

The last pattern in the book is what I can only describe as a "fuck you" jumper. A big fat FUCK YOU to everyone with a beloved relative who knits. A FUCK YOU to knitters themselves, who occasionally cling to finishing garments even when they are rapidly heading to a bad taste place of no return.

It's wrong. It's evil. It's the yellow bobble jumper.

The most disturbing thing about this monstrosity is that somewhere out there, there's a hipster who would pay good money for this.

Maybe it's time I tried to source some yellow Sirdar Gemini.